Seventeen years ago, Reather Robinson, a Baton Rouge native, was grieving over the sudden death of her mother when the dreams started — terrible dreams that she just could not stop thinking about.
“I kept dreaming that I had this lump in my breast,” Robinson, 73, recalled. “And sure enough, when I went to the doctor, it was breast cancer.”
Robinson, a licensed minister and loving mother and grandmother, credits her dream with saving her life and giving birth to a ministry. Robinson has used that experience with cancer to help hundreds of other people.
The Advocate for Christ Against Cancer is a nonprofit ministry she created with one objective: assisting patients and their families in handling the day-to-day tasks of living while also dealing with the stress and logistics of cancer care.
“God works in mysterious ways,” she said, citing her dreams as one example.
“I had always had a yearly mammogram, but the year before I didn’t go because well, everything had always been OK,” she admitted. “I just expected it would still be fine, but it wasn’t.”
Diagnosed with advanced Stage 2 breast cancer, Robinson immediately became focused on following her doctor’s treatment plan, which meant having a lumpectomy, or a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous lump, followed by months of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I found out about the breast cancer right after Mamma was gone, and all I kept thinking was, ‘Who am I going to talk to? Who’s going to help me?’ My children were all grown and working,” she said.
From finding transportation to and from medical visits to helping with the physical exhaustion of her treatments, Robinson relied on family and friends to assist her.
“That chemotherapy makes you sick,” she emphasized. “It makes you so sick.”
Through it all, Robinson had to continue working at her own job. She couldn’t stop and focus on getting well because, quite simply, she needed the money.
“I had no other income,” she said. “My income is my work.”
Eventually, her treatment plan began to work, and Robinson began to heal and grow stronger. Yet, even as her medical condition showed progress, her experience with cancer was not over.
Robinson soon discovered that her employer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Understanding how the disease affected her own life, Robinson launched into action. She provided support on every level, from transportation and house cleaning to child care and, most importantly, encouragement.
The experience would later open her eyes to what she now says is God’s true design for her life.
“I was attending a Women of Excellence convention when I felt like I needed to do something to help women and men with cancer. I felt like God was calling me to do this,” Robinson said.
Encouraged by her pastor, Bishop Raymond Johnson of the Faith Christian Center, Robinson began helping one person at a time. Through her ministry, which relies on donations and fundraisers for support, she would provide anything needed, such as food, transportation to and from treatments, and even wigs if that made the patient happy.
While other groups in Baton Rouge provide similar services to cancer patients, Robinson emphasizes that her organization also provides spiritual comfort and ministering, one of her true passions.
“I give my pastor a lot of credit in helping me stand on God’s Word,” she said. “We have to believe that God has this; we have to let our faith carry us.”
Through her entire treatment plan, Robinson said she knew that God was at her side; her belief never wavered. Little did she know; however, Robinson was about to learn the true strength of her faith.
Shortly after The Advocate for Christ Against Cancer was started, another nightmare began for Robinson.
In 2000, she lost a son to kidney failure. By 2008, she would bury two more sons. It’s a mother’s pain that Robinson feels daily, but her faith in God is just as constant.
“When I look at life, I think you expect to bury your parents, but you don’t expect to bury your children. That was the hardest thing to go through, yet I know that through it all, everything I went through, Jesus was carrying me because there is no way I could have come through this by myself,” she said.
Robinson’s daughter agrees.
“My mother has a passion to love people, and she has that fight in her. You see that fight. It’s one thing to say, ‘I believe the Word, and I love God.’ But you need that fight; you need to remain positive and have faith,” Brenda Wright said.
Wright, who assists her mother in The Advocate for Christ Against Cancer fundraisers, sees the good that the group performs in the community.
Wright explains that the next fundraiser is a luncheon from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Family Life Center of Faith Christian Center, 6180 Winbourne Ave. Cost is $50. Contact Robinson at (225) 938-1689 for reservations.
The luncheon will provide information for cancer patients, their families, and all other guests.
Topics scheduled include the importance of eating properly and even what to eat to help you feel better during treatments. Special speakers will also offer words of support and encouragement with games, praise and worship and other activities.
“We also have a special time (during these gatherings) when we acknowledge survivors who have passed away. It is an opportunity for us to remember and to encourage their families,” Wright said.
All proceeds from the fundraiser help support the ministry that Wright adds touches others. Beginning with a sincere need to help, The Advocate for Christ Against Cancer continues today through a love of others, she said.
“We are all in this boat together,” Robinson said. “You just can’t get out and let your brother sink.”
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